Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, is located in a basin between the Khomas Highland, Auas and Eros Mountains. It is 1,680m above sea level, 650km north of the Orange River and 360km from the Atlantic seaboard. Whether due to pure luck or a brilliant stroke of Germanic planning, the city is situated in almost the countries epicenter. This location has obvious benefits when it comes to governing a country the size of Namibia, and also makes it the ideal place to start and plan any Namibian travel.
The majority of tourists visiting Namibia on a fly drive safari start their adventure in the capital as it is the main entry point to the country. There are several large international companies offering rental cars at Windhoek International Airport while numerous smaller companies offer vehicle hire in Windhoek.
In 2013 the population of Windhoek was approximately 342,000 people, an extremely small capital by global standards. This number is growing rapidly at present mostly due to a lack of employment in rural areas. Despite the large increase in population over the last few years the city centre is extremely clean, and mostly trouble free. Most tourists comment on the cleanliness of the city, and often pronounce it to be a most un-African city (a somewhat back-handed compliment).
The city centre is characterised by a proliferation of German style buildings, a lasting reminder of Namibia's early colonial history. Early buildings such as the Alte Feste (old fort), Christuskirche and Tintenpalast (the parliament buildings) are of particular historical interest. In a wonderful display of irony, the Alte Feste Fort, once the bastion of German colonialism, now houses the National Museum which places particular emphasis on the freedom struggle and Namibian independence, right in front of the fort is the iconic Reiterdenkmal (equestrian memorial). Other notable buildings in Windhoek include St Mary's Cathedral and the Turnhalle Building.
Windhoek has had several names, many inspired by the hot water springs found in the area, the earliest of which were the Damara /Ais //Gams (/ indicates a click in Nama spelling) which means firewater and the Herero Otjimuise or place of steam. The area was also called Queen Adelaide's Baths for a (mercifully) brief time. Several opinions are offered for the origin of the present name, the most popular of these is that sometime before 1840 Jonker Afrikaner, a Nama leader, named the area Winterhoek, after the farm in South Africa where he was born. Windhoek, or windy corner, is a corruption of this name.
During the day the city centre has a European cafe culture, German cuisine dominates, but Namibian influence can be found in the quantity and quality of meat on offer, (vegetarians be warned, Namibia is carnivorous country!) Saying that, the streets are choc-a-bloc with people of all ages and cultures, all bearing a wonderful sense of pride, hope and ambition.
Nightlife in the city centre has grown with the population, with a decent amount of restaurants, bars and night clubs. There is still a fair amount of nightlife happening outside of the city centre, in the suburbs and in township areas. During South African occupation the city was divided into three areas; the central suburbs for the whites, Khomasdal for the coloureds and Katutura for the blacks. Katutura and Khomasdal have a vibrant nightlife and over the weekends the partying is non-stop. For the uninitiated visiting one of these disadvantaged areas can be extremely daunting (and unsafe), but with a little local guidance you could be in for the time of your life.
Most importantly Windhoek is home to Namibia's brewing industry, and for the less active Windhoek is a great place to wile away the time while sipping (or gulping) a cold beer. There are also a number of private hospitals, a state run hospital, doctors surgeries, banks, (with 24hr ATM's) pharmacies, supermarkets, bakeries, and clothes shops. There is a large(ish) shopping mall at Maerua Mall, (complete with indoor swimming pool and gymnasium) and a smaller one on Post Street Mall, (Town Square) and at Wernhill Park, all worth a visit, especially if you've had enough of looking at curios. There are also 2 industrial area, Northern and Southern, handy for bulk buying or car parts and repairs.
Windhoek's (and Namibia's) sense of progress since Independence, is emphasized by the presence of new offices, combined with expanding and bustling building and commerce industries.
There are plenty of places to stay both in and around the city, these range from backpacker hostels, through bed and breakfasts and guest houses to luxury hotels and lodges. For more information on where to stay visit our Windhoek Accommodation section.
a boutique hotel in the southern suburbs
a luxurious six bedroom establishment
boutique architect designed guest house near the city centre
Recently opened guest house in a quite upmarket suburb. Offers meals & excellent service
A friendly owner managed guest house surrounded by landscaped gardens. Located in the upmarket suburb of Eros.
in the quiet suburb of Olympia
An owner run guest house located in a well established suburb
superbly managed boutique guest house. Our number one choice of accommodation in Windhoek
Offers some of the best value for money accommodation in Windhoek
situated in the suburb of Olympia this guest house also doubles as a small art gallery
in the suburb of Klein Whindoek this boutique hotel shares grounds with one of Windhoek's most popular restaurants and a health spa
perennial favourite well decorated communal areas, good for holiday and business visitors
a small well designed B&B in a popular upmarket suburb
A new stylish and elegant guest house in a central location
in a historic building, good for families
close to Windhoek's main shopping centre at Maerua Mall
very centrally situated mid range accommodation in Windhoek
German hospitality in leafy suburburban setting
Situated in on a hilltop with commanding views over the Klein Windhoek valley
centrally situated offering good value for money
a luxury boutique hotel, offering top range private suites. Recently voted one of the world's best new boutique hotels.
Romantic accommodation in an restored castle, a must for honeymoons. Also the finest (and most expensive) restaurant in Windhoek
centrally situated hotel, excellent restaurant and newly re-furbished rooms
Situated in on a hilltop with commanding views over the Klein Windhoek valley
near Eros Airport on the southern outskirts of town lies this 3 star hotel
large hotel and casino in central Windhoek
a luxury boutique hotel, offering top range private suites. Great for honeymooners, luxury & exclusivity guaranteed.
large hotel complex on the outskirts of town - near the Eros Airport
situated on Independence avenue - in the heart of the CBD
A large hotel and casino, situated next to the golf course on the outskirts of town
situated in central Windhoek this hotel has 154 rooms, a casino and several bars and dining areas
This excursion to a game lodge offers the unique opportunity to view leopards & cheetah at close range
A wide variety of horse riding options including: Champagne Breakfast Rides, Sundowner Rides, Rides by the hour & even multiple day outings
Explore the township area of Katutura on a bike tour
Get to visit Windhoek's township from the comfort of your own vehicle - while accompanied by a knowledgeable local guide
Half or Full- Day Tours to a game ranch north of the city. Includes horse riding (only on full day), a game drive & lion feeding
Visit a diamond & jewelry showroom - open 7 days a week by appointment
A historical & cultural half day trip that explores central Windhoek
Learn about the pre-independence apartheid history of Windhoek